PANAMA CITY, Panama - Marco Granados and Salomon Wbias scored one minute apart late in the first half and Victor Zuñiga struck six minutes from full time as Mexico defeated Honduras, 3-1, on Wednesday in the first semifinal of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Mexico will play either Panama or Canada in the final Friday, while Honduras takes on the loser of the second semifinal in the third place match on the same day. All four teams had previously qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in October.
As was the case in the group stage on April 11 when Ulises Jaimes and Pedro Teran struck for a pair of goals 95 seconds apart in the first half of a 2-0 win over Honduras, El Tri quickly scored twice just before the break Wednesday.
Granados broke the scoreless draw with a sensational bicycle kick in the 43rd minute after Christian Tovar headed the ball back into the area following Fernando Cabrera's attempted clearance of a corner.
One minute later, Tovar again played provider, sending a long cross into the box where Wbias put a header from 12 meters off Cabrera to give Mexico a commanding 2-0 halftime lead.
Zuñiga added a third goal in the 84th minute, putting a first-time shot from 16 meters off the post and in for his first goal of the tournament.
After being the most dangerous attacking player all game, Honduran forward Alberth Elis set up Christopher Alegria for a cosmetic goal in the second minute of second-half stoppage time. It was his second tally of the tournament and just the third time Honduras scored on Mexico in the history of the U-17 competition.
Mexico, which defeated Guatemala, 2-0, in the quarterfinals, had the game's first quality scoring chance as Jose Almanza played Zuñiga inside the 18-yard box, but the Cruz Azul forward fired wide of the net from 16 meters.
Zuñiga had space to run three minutes later and sent a dangerous cross in front of goal, which was cleared for the game's first corner.
In his first tournament appearance, Cabrera dived to his right to get a piece of Erich Hernandez's shot along the grass from 20 meters one minute later.
In the 26th minute, Cabrera dived to parry away an attempt by Granados from distance for Mexico's fourth corner.
After absorbing early pressure from the Mexicans, Honduras, which defeated the United States in the quarterfinals, had a pair of chances just past the half hour mark.
Elis was played toward goal on a throw-in by Bryan Velasquez, but the forward poked the ball wide of the net from eight meters.
In the 33rd minute, Devron Garcia flicked a ball to Elias, who powered a header on target, but goalkeeper Raul Gudiño got a piece of the attempt as the ball rolled out for the first Honduras corner.
Despite conceding two rapid-fire goals late in the first half, Honduras came out of the locker room strong as Elis rolled a shot across the face of goal from eight meters in the 50th minute.
In the 68th minute, Kevin Alvarez put a free kick from 28 meters into the Mexican wall and Alegria's rebound went off the outside netting.
Second-half substitute Deybi Flores headed Alvarez's cross toward the goal, but it deflected off Ulises Rivas for the third Honduras corner in the 81st minute.
Any slim chance Honduras had at a second straight win over a North American side, though, was put to bed three minutes later when Erick Aguirre cut a ball back to a wide-open Zuñiga, who scuffed his attempt, but still managed to knock it into the net.
Alegria struck in stoppage time for hard-working Honduras, but it is Mexico which earned a spot into the final on Friday.